It’s not just Target that’s been having trouble with apparel sales. Macy’s, Sears, J.C. Penney, Gap, American Eagle, and others have been experience huge sales declines—and huge store closures as a result.
One of the reasons people aren’t shopping at these stores is that they’re turning to cheaper “fast fashion” retailers like H&M and Primark. Another is that they’re more likely nowadays to shop online for clothes—specifically at Amazon. Amazon has quietly but massively been expanding its apparel options, and as with nearly every other shopping category under the sun, the world’s largest retailer is rapidly stealing clothing sales from the competition.
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Target’s online sales were up 16% during the most recent quarter. That may sound pretty good, but it’s poor compared to the increase in the first quarter of 2016 (23%) and the second quarter of 2015 (30%). What’s more, analysts say that Target’s e-commerce operations, which got off the ground more slowly than most of the field, are still far behind the competition. So the only result that would be viewed as positive is if Target’s digital sales increases were blowing away everyone at this point.
“Target being in line is not good enough,” JP Morgan analyst Chris Horvers said on CNBC, discussing how Target’s online sales growth has basically just been keeping pace with competitors of late. “They’re playing catch up so they should be outperforming the market at this point.”